Tourism Australia signs fresh marketing deals with Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways

Popular Victorian tourist site The Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. (Wikimedia Commons)
Popular tourist site The Twelve Apostles along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. (Wikimedia Commons)

Tourism Australia has inked fresh marketing partnerships with Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways worth a combined $80 million over the next five years.

Virgin will contribute $25 million towards promoting Australia in key overseas markets such as the United States, with the peak tourism body tipping in a further $25 million. The deal with Virgin, which first came on board as a partner three years ago, represented Tourism Australia’s largest commercial partnership with an airline.

“We look forward to working closely with our partners and Tourism Australia to market Australia on the world stage in innovative and powerful ways,” Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said in a statement on Monday.

“This renewed deal demonstrates a significant increase in our investment and commitment to inbound tourism.”

In addition to promotion and marketing activity, Virgin will support trade and business events such as the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE).

Meanwhile, Tourism Australia and Etihad will spend a combined $30 million on promoting inbound tourism from key markets in Europe, including new campaigns in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier, which started working with Tourism Australia as part of a three-year deal worth $12 million in November 2012, will also provide flights for trade and business events, as well as for travel familiarisation visits by foreign journalists to Australia.

Etihad chief executive James Hogan said the new memorandum of understanding, which was signed at the ATE event in Melbourne on Monday, reinforced the airline’s commitment to Australia.

“It’s pleasing to see our continuing investment in Australian tourism attracting more and more visitors each year and delivering economic benefits to tourism operators Australia-wide,” Hogan said in a statement.

“Together we add real muscle to Tourism Australia’s efforts to promote tourism from overseas and enable visitors to see more of Australia while here.”

Tourism Australia chief executive John O’Sullivan said building strong and sustainable relationships airline partners was a key plank in the peak tourism body’s growth strategy.

“Nowhere has this approach been more productive than in our evolving partnership with Virgin Australia, particularly some of the great recent work we’ve been doing together in the United States,” O’Sullivan said in a statement.

On Etihad, O’Sullivan said: “Through their strong global footprint, particularly within Europe and their global partnerships, Etihad Airways is now one of Tourism Australia’s most important aviation partners, actively supporting some of our most important international campaigns and playing a critical role feeding traffic to Australia’s key international gateways.”

Virgin came on board with Tourism Australia in 2012 after Qantas withdrew its funding support for the tourism body in favour of working with state-based tourism organisations.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said at the time the airline could no longer work with Tourism Australia given its chairman Geoff Dixon was among a group of investors who were pushing for change at the Flying Kangaroo.


Australian Aviation

Tourism Australia signs marketing partnership with Cathay Pacific

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 at Gold Coast Airport. (Gold Coast Airport)
A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 charter service at Gold Coast Airport. (Gold Coast Airport)

Tourism Australia has signed a marketing agreement with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific.

The two parties will jointly invest $2 million in 2015 promoting Australia in key overseas markets China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and the UK. Moreover, Cathay will promote Australia at 40,000 feet with images of the nation’s best food, landmarks and experiences to be included on its in-flight entertainment system.

Tourism Australia said it was the first multi-market deal the peak tourism body had signed with Cathay, which flies to Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from its Hong Kong hub.

“Cathay Pacific is one of the world’s most respected airlines and an aviation partner we’re very keen to work with, especially given the strength of their footprint within North Asia,” Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said in a statement on Monday.

“The deal provides a strong platform to further grow inbound tourism from some of Australia’s most important inbound visitor markets.”

Cathay is also flying about 200 travel agents from China to Australia for a three-day Tourism Australia event on Queensland’s Hamilton Island that also involves travel media and Australian tourism operators.

The most recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show China is Australia’s second-largest source of inbound visitors.

For the 10 months to October 2014 (which is the most updated figure), there were 699,400 visitors from China, an increase of 16 per cent from the prior corresponding period. Only New Zealand provided Australia more overseas visitors with a little over one million Kiwis heading across the Tasman over the same period.

And a report from Tourism Research Australia said Chinese tourists spent $4.8 billion in Australia in 2013, with the figure forecast to grow to between $9.4 billion and $10 billion by 2020.


Australian Aviation

Heron Island: Circle of life spins on the reef

By Rod Emmerson

After meeting the denizens of land and sea at Heron Island, Rod Emmerson does not want to come home again.

A green turtle hatchling, rescued from seagulls, Heron Island Queensland. Photo / Rod Emmerson
A green turtle hatchling, rescued from seagulls, Heron Island Queensland. Photo / Rod Emmerson

It took a few slow turns of the cogs in my holiday-mode brain to realise what all the fuss was about. Our afternoon beach stroll had inadvertently put us in the path of a silent stampede of highly energised green turtle hatchlings that had burst through the sand dunes to our left and were hightailing it to the crystal waters of the reef. A bucket-list moment that quickly becomes a lesson in Darwinism.

We managed to shoo off greedy seagulls, but the predatory inhabitants of the reef circling just off-shore was another matter. The survival rate of hatchlings is disheartening; one in 1000 live to adulthood, but this of course is the way of life on the Great Barrier Reef.

Heron Island is the tropical paradise you visit in your dreams. Warm azure waters, blinding white beaches; a fly speck in hundreds of square miles of coral reef.

Getting there wasn’t exactly paradise. Hardly a rough trip, although I confess to losing my lunch on the two-hour voyage from Gladstone, amid mild seas in the audience of hardier mermaids.

My earlier anecdotes of spearfishing in waters not too far from here in my youth were nullified by my primeval wailing and fetal repose.

Barely 800m long and 300m wide, the coral cay is home to swarms of nesting seabirds and the birthplace for thousands of green and loggerhead turtles.

A softwood forest blankets the island and branches are weighed heavily with nesting herons and black noddys. The forest floor is a maze of holes from burrowing wedge-tailed shearwaters.

The fight for living space transcends to the seabird world too. Unbelievably, a turtle meat cannery once stood here; today it is a national park and a beacon for documentary makers, researchers, students and tourists seeking the awe and wonder of a pristine marine ecosystem.

Eggs laid, a turtle scoots back to sea. Photo / Rod Emmerson

The eco-friendly Heron Island Resort shares a small portion of the National Park with the University of Queensland’s Marine Research Station. This symbiotic relationship educates holidaymakers on the fine balance of life that exists in a such a microcosm. When you’ve walked the same beach as Sir David Attenborough and chatted with friendly biologists, you leave with a greater respect for the world around you.

Day breaks are a hive of activity with early-riser families and researchers watching turtles lay eggs or following exhausted mothers to the waters. The wharf comes to life with divers preparing for the allure of surrounding reefs and a quick glance around the shoreline waters picks up a scattering of snorkellers taking advantage of the morning’s high tide.

These waters are a showcase of marine life and the perfect spot for both scuba diving and snorkelling of all skills and ages. We join the dive boat and head to Pam’s Reef on a full tide. The reef wall snakes its way for several hundred metres, with the top just 4m below you, rolling off to about 20m for those on tanks.

Visibility is perfect and the water temperature almost a warm bath. Schools of colourful tropical fish, turtles, groper, stingray and the occasional lazy shark cruise the currents. But no matter how familiar you are with coral reefs, a low-tide reef walk with the resort’s nature guide is essential.

Snorkellers alongside the Heron Volute. Photo / Rod Emmerson

A marine biologist from the UK, Kirsty, explains how the ecosystem of the reef functions, and pulls up any number of wriggling critters for you to hold.

The one species that brought legs together was the dodgy bread-loaf sized sea cucumber that has a smiley face at one end and a small fish living in its anus at the other.

She can also show you what lurks in shallow waters that can end your life in minutes. Happily, Kirsty insists that the various shark species here are not remotely interested in humans. The various encounters we had confirmed this, but there is always that mortal moment in a silhouette.

The coup de grace here is the resort dining – foodies will be in heaven with the “Earth, Land and Sea” menu. The restaurant perimeter is lined in netting to avoid a passerine paté on your plate and allows you to watch shearwaters clear tunnel nests from the comfort of your dining table.

But if you truly wish to be touched by paradise, spend an hour rejuvenating your inner self at the Aqua Soul Spa. It’s here where you will start making plans to never see the mainland again. We walked in, and floated out. I could easily have exited humanity and climbed a tree and built a nest alongside the herons.

The perfect spot for the family to escape an Auckland winter and like the turtles, we will return.

The writer travelled courtesy of Tourism Australia, Tourism & Events Queensland, Air New Zealand and Heron Island.

Tourism Australia and Air New Zealand sign marketing deal


New Zealand airline promoting Australia

Tourism Australia has signed a deal with Air New Zealand to bring more tourists to Australia. Picture: Craig Greenhill Source: News Limited

TOURISM Australia has signed a multimillion-dollar deal with New Zealand’s national airline to help bring more tourists to Australia following its split with Qantas.

The $6 million deal with Air New Zealand will see the organisations work together on marketing for the next three years.

Last year, Qantas pulled out of a $44 million dollar partnership with Tourism Australia over a conflict of interest with Tourism Australia chairman Geoff Dixon.

Mr Dixon – a former Qantas CEO – was linked to a consortium seeking enough stake in Australia’s national carrier to change its strategic direction.

Rival airline Virgin Australia quickly jumped into the void with a deal that will see the carrier double its joint marketing to $12 million over the next three years.

Virgin and Air New Zealand also have an alliance on the trans-Tasman route.


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Under the new agreement Tourism Australia and Air New Zealand will each put $3 million towards advertising, public relations, events and trade focusing on three of Australia’s biggest and most valuable markets – New Zealand, North America and China.

Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said together the three markets accounted for more than a third of Australia’s international tourist arrivals each year.

Mr McEvoy said he was keen to work with New Zealand Tourism as well.

“We’re seen as competitors in many ways but about a third of visitors from America will visit both countries,” he said.

“We will compete fiercely when we need to but we will collaborate and work together to get our part of the world better known.”

Mr McEvoy said Tourism Australia was open to working with Qantas again.

“They’re a great global carrier and they do a great job all around the world,” he said.

“We’re able to work with them any time they want to work with us.

“The good news is they’re still spending that money with the state and territory tourism bodies.”

Qantas signed a $30 million deal with the NSW Government to promote Sydney and surrounds earlier this year in the biggest tourism partnership in the state’s history.

It will match Barry O’Farrell’s government dollar for dollar – $15 million each – on advertising and marketing campaigns for three years.

Mr McEvoy said Tourism Australia worked with 17 airlines last year and will work with 24 this year.

He said the new deal gives important access from North America through Air New Zealand’s presence in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver, as well as connections and “feeder traffic” through its alliance with United Airlines, which opens up cities like New York and Chicago.

Air New Zealand also has alliances with Air China and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, which Mr McEvoy said gave the opportunity to bring high value, niche travellers to Australia.

Air New Zealand CEO Chris Luxon said 82 million people from China travelled outside the country last year and there was huge potential there.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for the tourism industry,” he said.

“We’re seeing a big shift of power from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Australia is perfectly located to capitalise on that.”

The marketing partnership will be the airline’s biggest outside New Zealand.

Air New Zealand has opened new routes to Australia in recent years, including Auckland to Maroochydore, and the alliance between Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia will see the introduction of a seasonal direct service between Christchurch and Perth later this year.

Around 1.2 million visitors come from New Zealand to Australia last year.